War Trash

One of the worst things about the current war is the creation of so many would-be war correspondents.

I am referring to the ones who get an "embed" and think this makes them the second-coming of Ernie Pyle, who, by the way, is still the best who ever lived.

When I think of a war correspondent I think of Pyle and I think of a man like Kurt Schork.

After serving as a staffer on Capitol Hill for several years in the 1980s, Schork got in the journalism business. He worked for Reuters and spent the 1990s covering every bloody flare-up on the planet. He never "embedded", and probably was unaware the term existed. Unfortunately, Schork’s luck ran out in 2000, and died in spray of gunfire as his jeep neared a rebel checkpoint on a road in Sierra Leone. A very similar fate also met Pyle, whose jeep was ambushed by a Japanese machine gun nest on a road on an island off the coast of Okinawa.

As my tribute to these real heros of the profession, I wish to quote a few lines from the novel "War Trash", by Chinese-born author Ha Jin. The book tells the story of a Chinese POW in the Korean War. Jin’s narrative is sparse and dry, but sprinkled with profound insights. As the story is told, Jin describes a "thirtyish combat correspondent from the New York Herald Tribune named Margaret Hinton, a tall blonde with the looks of a second-rate movie actress." Jin writes:

"In one of her interviews, she claimed she would not marry until she found ‘a man who’s as exciting as war.’ Having read those words, I felt sick at heart. For her, the war had been a publicity stunt, a game. She should have been given a rfile and made to fight like an infantryman so that she could undergo the physical suffering and taste the bitterness of betrayal, loss and madness. One article even concluded: ‘Korea is her war.’ Who can bear the weight of a war? To witness is to make the truth known, but we must remember that most victims have no voice of their own, and that in bearing witness to their stories we must not appropriate them."




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